Ken Oringer. Famous chef in New England that opened seven restaurants in Boston, well-known and much respected. Someday, I hope to go to Clio, Oringer’s first restaurant, which is rumored to be out of this world. But before that, I decided to try his tapas restaurant Toro, located in South End.
P had come back to Boston to visit. After not having seen each other for about a month, we were ready to go on a nice date and have some good food. I had been reading good things about Toro, and I was quite excited, wondering how the tapas restaurant by a renowned chef would be like.
So although it’s a hassle to get to South End and a long walk from the T station, P and I made the trip to Toro.
As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I fell in love with the space. The wooden wine shelves and bar area was beautiful, and I loved the decorated blackboard.
There are some outside sittings too, but we decided to sit inside. The weather was gorgeous and the idea of sitting outside was nice too, but I also enjoyed the interior and the warm lights inside.
Like its name, the restaurant had a bull’s head on the far end of the space. It was definitely eye-catching and a nice addition to the rest of the décor.
I also loved how we could see some of the actions from the kitchen!
I was especially excited for the burger that’s served only during lunch on weekdays, thus the reason we went during lunch. The burgers seemed to be on the small side, however. Being the couple with a big appetite that we are, we had to order a few tapas to satisfy our stomachs.
Following a friend’s saying that you must try the Tortilla Espanola from every tapas restaurant, we ordered one. I was quite disappointed. The omelet was cold and dry, and the seasoning was little off. The aioli that came with it on the side was alright, but also lacked flavor. It almost tasted like plain mayo. Overall it was just alright, edible but not outstanding in any way.
The citrus way overpowered the Atun Crudo, which made it another disappointing dish. The tuna had almost a slimy texture, and the citrus erasing the delicate tuna’s flavor did not help us enjoy the dish. The avocado did not add much to the dish, although the cucumber did bring some kind of texture to the overall mushy dish.
Another dish that failed to impress! The Gambas al Ajillo was way too salty. P and I did agree that had the sauce been less (much less) salty, we could have enjoyed it. However, it is what it is, so we didn’t appreciate the salty sauce. I don’t remember anything else about this tapas except that it was salty. I just really missed the delicious gambas al ajillo from Tapeo, and couldn’t help but compare every second.
The Maiz Asado was the second thing I was most looking forward to, after the burger. Everyone talked about it, saying that it’s a must try. Corn with alioli, chili, and cheese. I don’t know what it is in Spain or in other countries, but it sure is a traditional Mexican snack, as I wrote in a post about Mexican food. I had been craving it, so I was excited to try it.
As soon as the waitress put the plate down, I saw the overload of alioli on the corn. It doesn’t seem like it in the picture, but the corns were plastered with alioli and cheese.
Even after scraping some off, P took one bite and put it down, unable to take another bite. I ate most of one piece, but also stopped after a while. We left the other half untouched. I was extremely sad. Too bad this is the “house specialty.”
After four very disappointing tapas, P and I tried to console ourselves, saying that the Hamburguesa con Queso will be the turning point of our lunch. Many other customers were ordering the burger too, so we were a little hopeful. Maybe we shouldn’t have been.
The bun was store-bought, which I wouldn’t have minded too much, had the bun been at least warm. But nope – it came cold. The patty was overcooked to the point where it was dry. I guess we should have expected that, since the cook and the waitress seemed to have a conversation while the patty had been on the grill for a good amount of time. The onions inside were good, and were probably the only thing I found to be decent. Even given the price, the burger was a complete fail.
The service was not great either. It took us forever to get the attention of the waitress, although the restaurant was pretty much empty. She seemed very busy all the time and never seemed see us.
We were so disappointed overall that when the waitress asked how everything was, P said “It was alright.” What we expected to be another place we can find a great burger and tapas turned out to be a mediocre restaurant, full of disappointing dishes. I was extra upset that this was the restaurant we chose to have our first date in a whole month and the restaurant we had to take so long to get to.
I wish I loved this restaurant as I loved the atmosphere and the décor, but if the food and service are mediocre at best, I cannot. I couldn’t understand what all the fuzz was about! Why was it that everyone in the reviews seemed to have loved the food, while we got mediocre food?
I normally give restaurant second chances, but given that Toro is so far from where I am and that there’s a great tapas place five minutes away, I’m very reluctant to return. I really hope that other Ken Oringer restaurants are much better than this one. Maybe it was a bad day. Maybe it’s because it was for lunch. I don’t care – mediocre food is meciocre food, and five consecutive disappointing dishes? No thank you.
1704 Washington St
Boston, MA 02118